Tag Archives: FBI

Trump’s Comey Replacement Could Be Even Worse on Mass Surveillance

The recent firing of FBI Director James Comey leaves those who are concerned about mass surveillance in a precarious situation. On the one hand, Comey was no protector of Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy, but neither is the president who will be searching for his replacement. One of the suspected favorites to succeed Comey, former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers, is even more in favor of draconian surveillance than the ousted FBI director.

While Rogers is just one of eight candidates the Trump administration has interviewed for the position, all are establishment intelligence officials, including a Bush-era counterterrorism expert.

Continue reading at the Observer 

FBI Announcement is a Slap in the Face to the Rule of Law

We can’t get away with what Hillary can. Tuesday, Director James Comey announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would not recommend a suit against Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton for having an email server used for both private emails and State Department communications. Despite the illegality of her actions, Clinton was only mildly embarrassed by her behavior, but her campaign remains strong and will not face consequences for her transgressions.

Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server was reported by the New York Times in early 2015. Not only was Mrs. Clinton operating a private server, but many say that people within State and the White House knew about it.

House Republicans are thoroughly displeased with the FBI’s decision, so much so that Director Comey was called to testify to Congress on Thursday about the investigation.

There are many problems with Hillary’s behavior, aside from lack of transparency and threats to national security. The issue lies in why Hillary Clinton is treated as above the law. Director Comey said in his statement, “[t]o be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.” Comey and the FBI have concluded that Hillary Clinton had broken a number of laws and protocol, but will not be charged for her crimes.

Other people throughout the government and military send and receive sensitive information on government servers on a daily basis. Other Secretaries of State and government officials have never been alleged to have over 100 emails containing classified information on a private server in their home. Military personnel who also handle classified and secret information spoke to Independent Journal on how they would be revoked of their security clearance, blacklisted, or fired if they did the same thing as Hillary Clinton.

The only explanation for Hillary getting off with a slap on the wrist is that there truly is a class of political elite, and then the rest of America. This is a sad example of the double-standard that exists within American government today between the government and the people. The political elite are being explicitly exempt from the consequences that any other citizen would face for the same crime.

Gone are the days of politicians and officials being subject to the same rule of law as the rest of the country.

4 Reasons to be Optimistic About Encryption’s Future

As the legal dispute between the FBI and Apple continues to dominate headlines, there’s a great deal that privacy advocates and consumers should be concerned about. What if the FBI gets it way? Does that set a terrible precedent that will trickle beyond cases involving terrorism? Is this the first step towards opening a backdoor into encryption? How will that decision impact the tech sector? The litany of questions goes on and on.

But rather than focusing on the potential worst-case scenarios, here are four reasons that, no matter the outcome of the legal battle being waged, we should be optimistic about the future of encryption.

Read the rest on The Huffington Post, here.

Statistics Reveal Disconnect Between Public and Police on Non-violent Drug Crime

The FBI recently released their 2012 crime and arrest statistics. Some might be surprised to hear that arrests for non-violent crime, particularly drug violations, far outnumber arrests for violent crime. In fact, the number-one reason people in America were arrested in 2012 was for violating drug laws. Of those arrests, 82% were for possession rather than distribution and 42% of those were for marijuana.

Arrests for marijuana went down slightly this year, but arrests for all drug abuse violations went up. LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) has stated that this might be due to the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use in states across the country. Despite a record number of Americans now stating that they are in favor of marijuana legalization, the behavior of police forces across the nation seems entirely at odds with citizens’ views. The continued implementation of this policy against marijuana and drug use doesn’t just defy public opinion, it ruins lives, corrupts police precincts, and has created the largest prison population in the world.

While over 100,000 law enforcement officials and supporters in LEAP recognize that the War on Drugs is detrimental to the population as a whole and steals the time and effort of police officers away from real crimes, the fact remains that drug arrests continue to dominate the charts and the federal government has fought state legalization and decriminalization tooth and nail. Why?

Robert Higgs’ recent article for the Independent Institute explains the concept of dishonesty in policy-making in the U.S. well. He claims that all government policies succeed in the long run. To be concise, if a program’s stated intentions are not met but funding for it continues to increase without fail for decades, the stated intentions must not, then, be the true objective of such a policy. This seems to be the case with the War on Drugs. As Higgs’ says, follow the money.

Local and state police forces benefit financially both from block grants earmarked for drug law enforcement and the mightily unconstitutional  asset forfeiture used to confiscate the property of anyone involved in or unlucky enough to be near a suspected drug-related crime. Under this law, 80% of seizures are unaccompanied by any criminal prosecution.

Monthly quotas are applied within police forces in the U.S., compelling officers to focus on meeting crime rate expectations rather than just protecting the public when necessary.

The money trail does not end at the local and state police, however. The Private Prison industry in America depends on a steady and increasing influx of new inmates, and often contractually obligates states to provide them. The War on Drugs plays no small role in the financial well-being of prisons. Despite a decrease in violent crime over the last several decades, the incarceration rate in the U.S. has tripled since 1980. Almost 50% of inmates in federal prisons are there on drug-related charges, and the U.S. now has the largest prison population in the world by far.

We are raised to believe that the police exist to protect us from those who would do us harm, and that those imprisoned are there because otherwise they would harm us. But the number-one reason police make arrests in our communities is because of non-violent crime. These arrests do harm the people in the lives of those arrested, and disproportionately among those with lower income and in minority groups.

The War on Drugs is not only a failure for the people it promised to help, but it has become a success for those who are profiting at the expense of everyone else. It is disturbing that many of the incarcerated individuals would not be in prison if non-violent actions weren’t treated as crimes and if a “war” filling the pockets of big business and government employees didn’t exist. Perhaps the one beacon of hope lies in the newfound tolerance in the voting booth. Social change tends to predate legislative change and statistics are in favor of ending the profitable-but-corrupt war against marijuana use. What will legalization mean for big business? What of the prison population? And what crime will the police turn to fill quotas in the absence of drug prohibition? Only time will tell.

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